Verification of Unusual
Rec. # 2019-14
|Scientific name:||Centronyx bairdii|
|Length of time observed:||15 min in total|
|Location:||University of Utah|
|Distance to bird:||2 feet|
|Optical equipment:||Atlas Radian 8x42 binos|
|Description: Size of bird:||Small sparrow|
|(Description:) Basic Shape:||Stocky passerine with short tail|
|(Description:) Overall Pattern:||Brownish above, pale below|
|(Description:) Bill Type:||Medium pointed|
Field Marks and
|Only flushed twice, each time when I came within 2 feet of it. It would fly less than 5 feet away and drop right into thick cover not to be seen again. Showed pale brown upperparts and short square tail without noticeably contrasting white on the corners.|
|Song or call & method of delivery:||
Sparrow spent its entire time walking around in
shin high grass and weed field giving this contact call while walking around.
Call note matches the contact call note for Baird's Sparrow. Looking at the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Western North America, the only other sparrow with a call note that looks like that on a spectrogram is Savannah.
(eBird checklist with 3 audio clips)
Sparrow spent its entire time walking around in shin high grass and weed field
giving this contact call while walking around. Never perched up for a view. Did
not respond at all to pishing but did respond to Baird's Sparrow song
and call often approaching closely, but again never showing itself.
Only flushed twice, each time when I came within 2 feet of it. It would fly less than 5 feet away and drop right into thick cover not to be seen again. It didn't call when flushed, unlike typical Savannah behavior.
The bird didn't respond to pishing or Savannah Sparrows calls/songs. It did react to Baird's Sparrow song/call, coming closer and calling more frequently. However, even this wasn't enough to get it to perch up.
|Habitat:||Shin high grass interspersed with Whitetop, Canada Thistle and rubber rabbitbrush next to a vernal pond with a large patch of wild rose on one side. See photo in attached checklist.|
were they eliminated:
Looking at the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Western North America,
there are only two sparrows that give a chip note at the same range of
frequencies (4-10 kHz) as the bird in the attached recordings are giving-
Baird's and Savannah.
The behavior of the bird was exactly the same as I have experienced with Baird's in the past and is described as in all field guides and something I haven't experienced with Savannah Sparrows. The bird would walk through the tall grass giving its chip note repeatedly. Of the whole time I tried to get close enough to see it, it only flushed twice and only when I was within 2 feet of it. The bird would fly less than 5 feet away and drop back down into the tall grass and not perch up like a Savannah Sparrow usually does. The flight was straight and direct.
Savannah Sparrows tend to easily flush and when they do, their flight tends to show undulations and will usually find some nearby vegetation or tree to perch in. Savannahs usually call when they flush too.
this & similar species:
I have seen and heard a good number of Baird's Sparrows north of Laramie,
Wyoming on their breeding grounds.
I have extensive experience with Savannah Sparrows all across the US. I have gotten to intimately study them with leading field trips and scouting for them at Swaner Preserve where they are the most abundant species.
|References consulted:||Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Western NA, Sibley 2nd edition, Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion, Peterson Reference Guide to Sparrows of North America|
Notes taken at the time of the sighting
From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
|Observer's address:||4609 S Wallace Ln Holladay, UT 84117|
|Observer's e-mail address:||**|
|Other observers who independently identified this bird:||N/A|
|Additional material:||Attached ebird checklist with audio and photo of the habitat.|
Audio of the chip notes and a photo of the habitat can be found on my ebird
The Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds has a companion website: https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/peterson-field-guide-to-bird-sounds/
You can view spectrograms and heard recordings of all call notes of all species in North America. You can look up the Baird's Sparrow to compare the call and also look at other sparrows if you want as well to compare.